by Alan Porter
The field for the 2009 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) perhaps was not the strongest ever gathered for a $6 million contest. The favorite, Asiatic Boy (ARG), had been beaten nearly eight lengths by Curlin last year, and second favorite Albertus Maximus , while a smart performer, has done his best work at around a mile on all-weather and was far from certain to stay the 10- furlong trip. That said, on paper, it did appear to have all the makings of an especially open race.
Appearances, however, can be deceptive, and that turned to be the case here, as Well Armed led throughout for a runaway 14-length victory. Well Armed had been beaten a half-length for third by Asiatic Boy in last year’s edition of the race, and was back in ninth behind Albertus Maximus in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and had also been defeated in his two starts since that event. So what happened to turn the open-looking contest into a rout?
The answer is probably a confluence of events. The Dubai World Cup is contested at 10 furlongs on dirt, and since he matured into a stakes competitor last winter Well Armed’s only previous try at the distance and surface had come in the 2008 World Cup. With Asiatic Boy failing to fire, a repeat of that effort would probably have been good enough to score this time. If we also factor in that Well Armed continued to improve in the last 12 months, and was granted an uncontested lead on a speed-favoring track, the result becomes a little less unfathomable.
Somewhat surprisingly, Well Armed started his career in England. He was apparently always well-regarded by his trainer, Clive Brittain, although he didn’t show much until his fifth start, when he finished second in a seven-furlong 2-year-old handicap at Lingfield. Jumped into group company for the Skybet.com Autumn Stakes (Eng-III), Well Armed continued his improvement, finishing fourth – despite not enjoying the clearest of runs – as longshot Blitzkrieg (IRE) upset future star Dylan Thomas (IRE). Unplaced in another group III next time out, Well Armed finally got off the mark on his eighth and last start of the season, switching to the all-weather to take a 10-furlong Lingfield maiden. Still in the care of Brittain, Well Armed began his 3-year-old campaign in Dubai, winning over seven furlongs on dirt at Nad al Sheba. Well beaten in the DNRD U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) and S & M Al Naboodah Group U.A.E. Derby (UAE-I), Well Armed then went to the sidelines with an injury that kept him off the track for 18 months. During that period he was gelded in an effort to keep him from becoming too heavy.
Well Armed’s U.S. debut came in late 2007. He captured a Hollywood Park allowance race in November and soon demonstrated how much he’d improved during his absence, taking second in the San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) early in 2008. He then led throughout to beat Heatseeker (IRE) for the San Antonio Handicap (gr. I). Third in the Dubai World Cup next time out, Well Armed didn’t suffer the dreaded “Dubai bounce,” taking the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) in his next start. Beaten a neck by Go Between in the Pacific Classic (gr. I), he then defeated Tiago and Albertus Maximus for the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I). His only other starts have been his run behind Albertus Maximus in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile where he was never able to adopt his customary on-the-pace running style, a fourth in the 2009 edition of the San Pasqual Handicap, and a second in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II).
If the terms “improved with age” and “best at 10 furlongs on dirt” can be applied to Well Armed, they might just as well refer to his sire Tiznow . Unraced at 2, Tiznow took the Affirmed Handicap (gr. II) in July of his 2-year-old career, but really progressed through the fall to capture in succession the Super Derby (gr. I), Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), and -- after a thrilling battle with Giant’s Causeway -- the Breeder’s Cup Classic (gr. I). Champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 2000, Tiznow came back at 4 to take three of his six starts, winning the San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II), Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and a second Breeders’ Cup Classic), earning another Eclipse award, this time as champion older male.
Rather unexpectedly, given his physique, race-record and pedigree, Tiznow’s initial runners carried him to a title as leading freshman sire. This was primarily due to the deeds of champion 2-year-old filly Folklore. However, Folklore was out of a Storm Cat mare whose dam was Fappiano’s fast daughter Jeano, and she’s proved to be something of an anomaly, as in general the Tiznows are doing much better with age. To date, he has 19 stakes winners from his first three crops (4-year-olds and up), of which 10 are graded, five having won grade I events, and five others scoring at grade II level. Folklore and Well Armed are the best from the five stakes winners in his first crop. His second crop, more prolifc than his first, yielded eight stakes winners, including grade I winner Tough Tiz's Sis and grade II winners Bear Now, Slew's Tizzy, Tiz Wonderful, and Tizfiz, winner this year of the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT). There are already six stakes winners from his third crop, among them Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes (both gr. I) hero Colonel John; upset Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Da' Tara; and the excellent turf horse Tizdejavu.
By the Relaunch horse Cee's Tizzy, Tiznow is a member of a male line – that of In Reality – that has its modern roots in Florida. Coincidentally, Well Armed’s female line has also been nurtured in Florida. Well Armed’s fourth dam, Hail Proudly, was bred by Bonnie Heath – one of the founding fathers of the Ocala breeding industry – out of the Calumet-bred mare Spanglet. Hail Proudly was unplaced in her only start, but bred to Fred Hooper’s good runner Tri Jet she produced the stakes-winning brother and sister Triocala and Tri Argo. The third dam of Well Armed, Tri Argo earned black type with a win in the Wistful Handicap at Pimlico. Despite her stakes score, Tri Argo was given limited opportunities at stud, and her first three matings were with the Seattle Slew horse Gold Meridian. A $1.65 million yearling at the 1983 Keeneland July yearling sale, Gold Meridian failed to live up to his price tag, although he did earn black type with a win in the Shanbally House Stud Stakes in Ireland. Gold Meridian was not a prolific stakes sire but he did get a grade I winner in the shape of the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) victress Supah Gem. He also sired two other graded scorers, one of which was Tri Argo’s daughter Tee Kay, who earned graded black type with a win in the Martha Washington Stakes (gr. IIIT). Subsequently Tee Kay produced multiple Japanese Champion Symboli Kris S. Foaled one year after Tee Kay, Trithenia was a sister to that mare, but couldn’t match her exploits on the track, failing to win in nine starts. At stud, Trithenia produced seven winners from eight runners, the best of which was the Notebook daughter Well Dressed, winner of the American Holly Stakes at Delaware Park.
Consigned to the 2001 Keeneland November sales in foal to Awesome Again , Well Dressed was purchased by Well Armed’s owner/breeder, WinStar Farm, for $150,000. The Awesome Again filly she was carrying (her first foal) was only a minor winner, but Well Armed is her second. The year after Well Armed was born, Well Dressed produced the Distorted Humor colt Helsinki, who placed third in both the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II). Helsinki’s sister Witty is a winner at 3 this year, and Well Dressed’s current 2-year-old, Life Well Lived, is a sister to Well Armed.
The combination of Tiznow’s dam Cee’s Song and Well Armed’s granddam Trithenia is an intriguing one. Cee’s Song is by a son of Seattle Slew, and her fourth dam, Blue Canary, is a very close relative to Crimson Satan (they are half-sister and brother, and from the same sire line). Trithenia’s sire Gold Meridian is by Seattle Slew, out of Queen Louie, a stakes-winning daughter of Crimson Satan, making Cee’s Song and Gold Meridian very similarly-bred. There is a second link in this pedigree, as Cee’s Song’s granddam Sleep Lonely is by Pia Star (by Olympia, out of a mare by Mahmoud), out of a mare by a son of Tom Fool. Trithenia’s dam is by Tri Jet, who is by a son of Tom Fool out of Haze (by Olympia, out of Blue Castle, who is a genetic relative to Mahmoud, and so bred on very similar lines to Pia Star).